MicroLead was successful in institutionalizing small balance savings mobilization in 53 partner Financial Service Providers (FSPs) from 2009 to 2016. In phase I, MicroLead addressed a market gap in a number of LDCs where a market leader was needed to jumpstart innovation and competition. In phase II, MicroLead challenged FSPs to develop, pilot and scale deposit services for low-income rural populations, particularly women.
Over the life of the programme, over 2 million active depositors (of which 70% of them are women and rural) otherwise excluded, have been accessing services.
With MicroLead’s support, FSPs are reaching last mile rural markets with customer centric financial products offered via alternative delivery channels (agents, mobile phones, point of sale (POS) devices and informal community groups) with financial education to boost usage by customer. MicroLead publications include a set of six digital financial services (DFS) toolkits describing the business models for FSPs to go digital and over a dozen individual partner case studies which outline the business case of small balance deposit mobilization, the how-to of providing services to informal community groups, as well as building agent networks to service low-income populations. As UNCDF continues to scale MicroLead, future priorities include emphasis on women’s economic empowerment through financial access and use, including through the empowerment aspects of group solidarity, domestic resource mobilization, customer-centric product design and digital financial services… ultimately “leaving no one behind”.
Building local government capacity for infrastructure and service delivery in Bangladesh
Over the last 15 years and through different phases of innovation, UNCDF spent $10 million of core funding to pilot and test approaches to fiscal decentralization in Bangladesh.
What began in one of 64 districts in Bangladesh in 2000 eventually was scaled-up by the World Bank with $720 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing and the Bangladesh government’s own funding across the entire grass roots tier of local governments in the country. Under this programme, 10,242 investments were made locally.
UNCDF raised the participation of poor households in the planning process from 4% in 2012 to 36% in 2015, of which 37% of the participants (295,000) being women. In 2016, Japan came forward with an additional $400 million to continue expanding the nationwide scale-up across the entire lower-tier of local government.